In June of 2014 I was visiting my son in Tijuana, Mexico. While there we were roaming the streets prior to attending a Mexican baseball game only to literally almost bump into 'Sheriff Willy'. I found his appearance to be interesting and unique, which only aroused my curiosity to capture a few images of him. Lost in the shuffle of the crowd I decided to venture out and search for him. Thinking I had lost him only to find him sitting on a park bench out on the main street. I approached him knowing my time was limited and not knowing or even bothered to ask if he spoke English. I pointed to my camera then to him only to get an agreeable nod. Not a word was spoken between us then I commenced to fire off a few shots of him.
Eight months later my curiosity got the best of me. I did an internet search on the name 'Sheriff Willy' only because I did not know his real name. I only knew his first name was Willy by a name tag around his neck and the sheriffs badge pinned to his jacket. I was quite surprised with my search which brought me to writing this blog. As it turns out, Willy is or was quite famous in his younger years.
William Clauson was born in Ohio of Swedish parentage. When he was two, his family returned to their native Sweden. There at the age of five, he was enrolled at the Boras Conservatory of Music where he began studying violin and voice. After returning to the United States still as a young boy, Will took up classic guitar in favor of the violin and headed west to live with his uncle on the orange grove farms in Covina, California and pursue his dream of becoming a cowboy.
At the age of ten Will won the title of "All American Boy" at the Hollywood Bowl. This was the start of his show-business career. He was often cast as a "country bumpkin" in movies and his dream of becoming a cowboy was fulfilled. The rest of his bio can be read here.
You never know who your are going to meet on any street which only encourages me to keep on photographing interesting and unique people. Although, I plan on a return trip to Tijuana sometime this year 2015 and to photograph more of Willy but have recently discovered that he has moved to Los Angeles. My chances of getting more photos of him are slim to none.
He has been a world traveler and author of the hit song 'La Bamba'